3 February 2014

Accidie

Michael Wharton, The Missing Will (London: The Hogarth Press, 1984), p. 155:
I also thought of writing an Anatomy of Boredom, on the lines of Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, and made some notes on this fascinating subject on which I was so well qualified to write. But the more I thought about it the more mysterious and unfathomable it seemed. It would be necessary to trace it back to the time, if time it could be called, before the Fall of the Rebel Angels. It would be necessary to deal with all aspects of Accidie, the deadly sin of which, out of all the deadly sins, I was most guilty. The prevalence of Accidie in mediaeval monasteries, where the monks must have drowsed away on summer afternoons, fuddled on the strong ale of which, according to the records, they had such a generous allowance ... no wonder the manuscripts they were supposed to be copying were full of textual corruptions which hundreds of years later were to delight the rigorous mind of Professor Housman ... The sin of Accidie, alone, I thought, was a lifetime's study, and that was only one strand in the great Anatomy of Boredom.
Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Land of Cockaigne (1567)